Timing is everything.
This was a blogpost that I actually backed into. I had a number of possible themes on which I thought I could write, but none of them seemed just right for the moment.
For instance, last Saturday I attended Nadia Bolz-Weber’s Shameless book tour appearance at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Portland. I was struck, in this age when we in Cascades are working so hard to look more like the community around us, that Nadia was able to bring together the whole spectrum of heterosexual, LGBTQ, and sexually evolving people of Portland and beyond. If you know Nadia’s reputation, you know her talk was peppered with language usually reserved for R-rated movies. I left the event knowing that there was a blogpost in there somewhere. But the timing just didn’t seem right.
Then I thought of a comment I heard at a meeting recently when a presbytery leader reminded me that a big part of my job is to scour our religious denominations for “success” stories and share them with our presbytery. The truth is those success stories are starting to mount and show some consistent themes, but the timing just didn’t seem right to blog about.
Then yesterday I enjoyed an especially spicy chai tea latte at the downtown Case Study Coffeehouse. Next to me was a young man intently focused on some lengthy article on his MacBook. I happened to notice the title, “Sartre and the Death of God.” Being slightly brave knowing that I could be accused of eavesdropping I said, “I couldn’t help but notice the title of your article. I did some research on the “death of God” theology of Thomas Altizer many years ago.” The young man shared that he had met Altizer just before his death and explained that he was writing a dissertation on the “The Repressed Theism of Sartre and Hemingway.” A future blogpost titled, “Theology is Alive and Well at the Local Coffeeshop,” lit up in my brain like a flashing neon sign. But, again, the timing just didn’t seem right.
Finally, with the news that Cascades had just been named as one of fourteen presbyteries across the nation for the Vital Congregations Initiative I started writing furiously as a way to both introduce the initiative and offer my initial thoughts. But I stopped. We have not yet formally invited leadership from the presbytery to help launch this and I suddenly realized that anything I say might pre-empt or contradict what is yet to come. Again, there will be at least one blog post on the Vital Congregations Initiative, but for this week, the timing just didn’t seem right.
My deadline was fast approaching and still I had no blogpost for the week—that is, until I realized that the theme was staring me right in the face. “You know, there is a message in this issue that ‘timing is everything,’” I said to myself. “Yes, timing is everything,” I repeated knowing that this was something that the presbytery could stand to hear at this moment.
I know the story well. Truth be told I probably would not have been a good candidate for this position five to ten years ago. I would not have been ready for you nor you ready for me. If anything I am in this position not because I was the best candidate, but because the timing was just right between what you needed and what I offered.
I learned this story when I was counseling people and families through the experience of grief. What I learned was that it was not so much what I said as it was saying the right thing at the right time. I could promise people that there was life on the other side of loss, but if I said it too early it either had no effect on their healing or it even made them more depressed. I learned that timing was everything. I learned that there was a sweet spot where I could see the hope and possibility return to their faces and the joy to their eyes if I waited until the soil of their hearts was ready to receive it.
Timing is everything. The Presbytery of the Cascades has just received notice that we are one of fourteen presbyteries named in the Vital Congregations Initiative.
I hope and pray that this our right moment.
I hope and pray that this is the right time.
Timing is everything.
The gift has to be offered and we have to be ready to receive it.
Thanks once again for the tasty breadcrumbs. Hope the time will be right soon for Theology is Alive and Well in the Local Coffee Shop. You might also do one on Theology is Alive and Well in the Local Pub.
Oh yes, Brad! In the coffee shop, the pub, the open mic venue, and even in side conversations on the street. God just keeps showing up!
Interesting reflections on timing and grief, something I’ve been contemplating myself recently. Loved your coffee shop story.
Much of this came from my experiencing in working with people who were grieving. I learned that it was an organic process that more than anything just needed a safe environment in which to grow and heal. I have been amazed at how much community transformation follows the same process as healing from grief.
There are coffee shops open for inside work and fellowship?
If you are referring to coffee shops being open during COVID time, this post was published way back in 2019!